THE INFIRMARY LIST was long. And the question marks, wondering how all the bumps and bruises might have played a role in the Flyers' ultimate demise, still remain.
Starting as early as today, at least five players will go under the knife to repair injuries that couldn't be fixed properly during the season.
"We seem to have a laundry list like this every year," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "I think every team goes through it."
Here's an update on each injured player:
Richards, 26, sent out a tweet (@MRichie18) yesterday to say that he will be undergoing wrist surgery today to repair a torn ligament. Holmgren confirmed the injury yesterday, adding that Richards has "dealt with" the wrist injury since training camp opened last September.
Holmgren said a doctor's prognosis during the season concluded that Richards' wrist would not be damaged further with continued use. He could not say which wrist requires the surgery.
"It hasn't kept him out of the lineup, but it has inhibited his play, certain aspects of his play," Holmgren said. "I think it affected his performance in the faceoff circle. I think it's affected his shot to some degree.
"I think at some point late in the year that we knew he needed surgery . . . It's just one of those things that over time, it's eroded."
Versteeg, who was acquired in a Valentine's Day trade with Toronto, will undergo abdominal surgery to repair a sports hernia-type injury that has torn into his "stomach muscle wall," according to Holmgren.
Holmgren said the Flyers first learned in mid-March that Versteeg would need to "have something done at some point," but that he was overall happy with Versteeg's presence in the lineup - even though the Flyers had a much better record without him.
Versteeg has 1 year left on his contract, which pays him $3.083 million. The Flyers acquired Versteeg for a first- and third-round pick in this June's draft.
"I think Kris played very well," Holmgren said. "Coming into a team that had established players at each position . . . I was very happy with his play. [The injury] wasn't a situation that inhibited his play at all. Over the course of time here, it got to the point where it is now."
Less than 7 months removed from an operation to resolve a herniated disc in his lower back, Michael Leighton will have offseason surgery to tackle a hip issue that has been nagging him for some time. Leighton spent most of the year with the Phantoms in Adirondack, but he made one regular-season start for the Flyers and one start in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Next year is the final season of his 2-year deal, in which he will earn $1.6 million.
"When he came back to the team, he played a little bit of the one game, the overtime loss, and I thought he played good," Holmgren said. "Then he got his chance to start and he didn't play good. I think Michael's got to, with the hip surgery he needs, he's got to be around here all summer, working with our medical staff and our training staff to get that strength and to get ready for training camp. I think he's probably going to want a job in training camp, too."
For months, Blair Betts wore a bandage over the top of his right ring finger that was seemingly bloody after every practice. The tip of Betts' finger exploded when he blocked a shot with his hand on Feb. 18 in Carolina.
He received numerous stitches, but the injury never healed properly.
Betts, 31, will earn the least of any Flyers forward ($700,000) next season as their resident penalty-killing expert.
Andrej Meszaros appeared to be fine throughout his first season as a Flyer - and in fact, he was awarded the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the team's most valuable defenseman.
Still, Holmgren announced yesterday that Meszaros needs offseason wrist surgery. No other details were available.
Pronger saw another back specialist yesterday to seek a second opinion on what seems to be a herniated disc-type problem, according to Holmgren. It is still not known yet whether Pronger, 36, will need surgery.
Jeff Carter and
Holmgren said that Carter and Hartnell might require surgery to repair ongoing hip issues. Holmgren said the Flyers' extraordinary number of hip injuries are not uncommon leaguewide.
"I don't have access to other teams' injury lists," Holmgren said, "but I know there are a lot of guys in the league that have hip issues that need to be taken care of at some point."
With more than 4 months until training camp opens in mid-September, now is as good a time as ever to do it. *
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at
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